Cuomo administration hires criminal defense attorney

The Wall Street Journal is reporting this afternoon that the Cuomo administration has hired a criminal defense attorney to help it deal with the nursing home scandal. This one isn’t getting as much attention now that there are two sexual harassment allegations being made against Cuomo, but it’s still ongoing in the background because a Brooklyn U.S. Attorney and the DOJ are both investigating:

Elkan Abramowitz, a one-time federal prosecutor, confirmed he is representing the Executive Chamber—which comprises the governor and his closest aides—in the nursing-home investigation. Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Mr. Cuomo, deferred comment to Mr. Abramowitz…

Mr. Cuomo said last week that the state is cooperating with three inquiries about nursing homes from the Brooklyn-based U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York as well as the Justice Department’s Civil Rights and Civil divisions, which are based in Washington…

The Justice Department investigation stretches back to the summer, when the Cuomo administration’s reporting of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes began to receive intense scrutiny from lawmakers, journalists and the families of nursing-home residents who died of Covid-19.

The Civil Rights Division requested records in August about the Covid-19 death toll in public nursing homes. The state’s response led some Justice Department officials to believe the state was significantly underreporting nursing-home deaths, the Journal has reported.

That request last year was apparently the one that led to the Cuomo administration refusing to release data on nursing home deaths. Cuomo’s aide admitted earlier this year that fear of an investigation had prompted them to freeze the release of data, including to journalists. Then about a month ago the state’s Attorney General released a report saying the state had undercounted nursing home deaths by 50 percent.

The same report said it was possible Cuomo’s decision to force nursing homes to accept COVID patients being released by hospitals could have contributed to the overall death toll in nursing homes. That’s presumably one thing these ongoing investigations are now looking into.

All of this seemed like it was possibly going to present a real problem for Cuomo at some point. But things have gotten so bad for him that the media is mostly treating this as a second-tier scandal now. It was overtaken by the bullying scandal involving Assembly member Ron Kim which was then overtaken by his new primary scandal involving accusations of sexual harassment by two women (so far). That is now being investigated by state AG Letitia James.

As Allahpundit noted earlier, his second accuser has just hired Debra Katz to represent her. So before long, Cuomo may need a second attorney to represent him on the harassment claims. Or maybe Abramowitz can handle both scandals at once. According to Business Insider Abramowitz is “a longtime attorney for director Woody Allen.”